a new month.

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Beginning of November.

A time to reflect on what we are working towards. A new month and a chance to re-evaluate what we want to accomplish. A chance to course-correct and to get back on track to end the year in a strong way. Or perhaps, an opportunity to create some priorities for ourselves for the first time, all year.

It doesn’t matter where we are at, whether we have been consistently working on our goals or we haven’t created any yet, there is still time to make the next 30 and 60 days really count!

When we sit down to do this work, we need to distinguish between “priorities” and “to do lists”. I teach my private clients this concept and it really helps them to focus on what really matters in their lives – to help clear away the clutter of obligation and to minimize the distractions that inevitably arise.

I will share a story about my client who wants to bring more money into her life. When she hired me, she was struggling to pay her bills and everything related to her money situation is very stressful. At the beginning of our work together, she identified that she wanted to double her income in 2016. She knew that this would be a very serious stretch goal, it would take tremendous focus and accountability. She wanted to figure out how to do the hard work associated with achieving this money goal way more than she wanted to feel stress, pressure and anxiety about not having enough money to pay her bills. She was committed. So we began with creating her goal: Double income in 2016.

Next we created her “priorities” list – the things / tasks that she would prioritize because they were in alignment with her over-arching goal of doubling her income in 2016. Priorities support goals 100% of the time. Priorities become the road maps and create the structure behind the goal setting. Priorities help us to stay focused and to provide the necessary restraint to achieve what we most want.

My client created her 5 priorities that would support her goal of doubling her income in 2016. This included the specific ways that she would earn money and save money. The priorities were very straight-forward and clear. She had created her plan. And then she went to work on outlining the steps underneath each priority and learned that this is where she needed to direct her focus every month, every week, every day.

There have been moments when my client has gotten off-course with her money goal this year. Each time it has happened was because she allowed her “to-do list” to take over. She hadn’t meant to abandon her money goal and never forgot how important it was to her, it’s just that other things created moments of momentary distraction. Other things became temporarily more important.

And this happens to us all the time. Doesn’t it? Our lives are so full and there is so much going on in the world around us, that it is easy to lose track of what we say is important to us. We never intend to turn our back on our goals and yet we do it all the time. We want to stick to our plan and our priorities and yet finding the time can sometimes feel impossible – especially when we allow our “to-do lists” to take over our lives.

I want to explain exactly what I mean by “to-do lists”. I am referring to them as the task lists that we create every week. The lists that wake us up in the middle of the night. The impossibly long lists of errands, shopping, driving, dropping off, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, helping out….that run our day-to-day lives. These lists dictate our schedules, our free time and set a precedent for how we organize ourselves. If left unchecked, they can take over everything.

Now I am not suggesting that we can abandon these “to-do lists” all together – that would be impossible – we need to have clean laundry, food in the pantry, our cars inspected. We need to go to the dentist, pick up a birthday card and volunteer at school or in our communities. These are the realities of life. And they cannot become the excuse we use to not make time for what we say we really want. I know that when a client says they want something and yet they are spending time on other things, it is because they are caught up in their “to-do lists” and think that they have no other choice. They believe that there is no extra time to devote to working towards their goals.

I believe that you always have a choice. I believe that there is always more than enough time. I believe that when you identify your goals and the priorities that support it, you can look at your “to-do list” with a different perspective, that you can un-obligate yourself from all the extra and unnecessary items that are not in alignment with what you really want.

So, I know that my client with the money goal is starting today and this new month, revisiting her priorities. She is evaluating her progress and seeing where she needs to do to push harder, shift attention and focus. She has taught herself how to put her priorities first and fill her “to do list” around it. She is determined to reach her goal this year and she is very close!

What can you do today on this first day of the month, to check in on your priorities?

How do you want to finish this year?

What would you like to accomplish?

Where can you carve out time from your “to-do list” and work on your priorities?

There is still plenty of time – to prioritize what matters to you most. To work towards it and most importantly, to experience achieving it.